Ashok Kheny: Lingayat face for Bidar?

Bengaluru: What's it going to be – boom or bust at the ballot box? Businessman-politician MLA, Ashok Kheny's move to join the ruling Congress, merging his outfit, Karnataka Makkala Paksha, with it, came despite reservations from some city legislators and local leaders in Bidar district, and a damning report by a joint legislature committee into violations in the execution of the Bengaluru-Mysuru Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC), on Monday.

Mr Kheny, who was elected to the Assembly in 2013 from Bidar (South) constituency, told the media that he decided to join the Congress in order to accelerate overall development of his constituency but ducked all questions on the controversial BMIC project, saying he would speak only about policies and programmes of the Congress, and that journalists keen to quiz him on the project could do so in his office, and not on the premises of KPCC.

Welcoming him into the party fold, KPCC president Dr G Parameshwar said Mr Kheny chose to join the Congress without any pre- conditions. “His joining the Congress will help strengthen the party in Bidar district and thereby ensure the party's victory in all six Assembly constituencies there," the state party chief said.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah too glossed over reservations, saying in Mysuru that he was not aware of any resistance from within the party to Mr Kheny’s entry into the Congress.

Not so nice for Congress!

  • In its report tabled in the Assembly in Dec 2016, the 11-member committee, headed by law minister T B Jayachandra, concluded that 16 of 22 articles in the framework agreement had been violated by the private partner NICE (Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise) while completing the 111 km four-lane expressway between Bengaluru and Mysuru. It had also recommended an inquiry by the CBI, the ED, the  vigilance commission or an investigative agency of equal standing
  • The KPCC gave its green signal for Kheny’s entry as it reportedly sees him as a better choice than late CM N Dharam Singh’s son-in-law, Chandra Singh for the Bidar South ticket. This may upset Congress strongman and Dharam Singh’s old ally, Mallikarjun Kharge
  • Congress does not have a strong Lingayat candidate in Bidar South, where former Minister Bandeppa Kashempur of the JD(S) and BJP district chief, Shailendra Beldale are likely to contest. Kheny's Lingayat credentials may have opened a space in the party

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